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England v France is OFF

EXCLUSIVE: England v France is OFF – Rugby World Cup clash is cancelled as ‘violent’ Super Typhoon Hagibis heads for Japan

  • England’s Rugby World Cup Pool C game against France has been called off 
  • It means the game will be recorded as a 0-0 draw, handing each team two points 
  • Organisers had considered staging game 500 miles away due to Super Typhoon 
  • RWC chiefs will call a press briefing on Thursday to clarify their course of action 

England’s World Cup clash with France in Yokohama on Saturday is off, the first time in the 32-year history of the tournament that a fixture has been cancelled.

With super typhoon Hagibis set to rage through Tokyo and surrounding areas, tournament organisers were due to announce contingency plans in the early hours of Thursday morning.

The fixture would have taken place at Yokohama Stadium on Saturday evening, at around the time Hagibis is expected to hit the area, wreaking havoc. 

England's Rugby World Cup Pool C decider against France has been called off

England’s Rugby World Cup Pool C decider against France has been called off  

https://www.dailymail.co.uk/

Typhoon Hagibis is being put on par with a category 5 hurricane with 160mph winds expected

England had been put through their paces on Wednesday morning with a training session

England had been put through their paces on Wednesday morning with a training session

The tropical storm is classified as ‘violent’ by Japanese meteorologists, with wind speeds likely to exceed 160mph.

The initial plan was to take the England v France fixture to Oita, in the southern island of Kyushu, where both teams will play their quarter-finals next week. However, logistical problems forced officials to abandon that option.

There was a mounting sense of chaos and confusion here on Wednesday night as teams, fans and media were kept in the dark about what would happen this weekend.

Rumours were rife about disruption affecting four countries: England, France, Japan and Scotland. As night fell in Tokyo, MailOnline broke the story that England v France was off. There were rumours that the Japan v Scotland fixture was likely to go ahead but be moved back to Monday or switched to Oita.

Organisers were considering moving the game from Yokohama due to Super Typhoon Hagibis

Organisers were considering moving the game from Yokohama due to Super Typhoon Hagibis

England currently top Pool C, and would stay there if the game is recorded as a 0-0 draw

England currently top Pool C, and would stay there if the game is recorded as a 0-0 draw

Fiji and Wales were reportedly asked to check out of their hotels in Oita promptly, freeing up accommodation for Scotland and Japan should it be required.

If pool matches are cancelled, they are classified as scoreless draws, with each team receiving two points.

While that does not significantly impact England and France, who have clinched quarter-final places, it would have a major bearing on the three-way tussle for qualification from Pool A between Japan, Scotland and Ireland.

It has been an intriguing contest for the top two places in that pool and organisers are determined the scrap for qualification will run its course.

England will now qualify in top spot in their pool, and will likely face Australia in the last eight

England will now qualify in top spot in their pool, and will likely face Australia in the last eight

World Rugby have emphasised that their priority is the safety of participants and spectators but they will be desperate to avoid significant disruption.

While the governing body have insurance which covers freak occurrences, the loss of two fixtures at the 70,000-capacity Yokohama Stadium would lead to losses estimated at £30million.

Vast numbers of supporters are heading from the UK to the Tokyo area this weekend. While ticket refunds are covered in the terms and conditions, there is sure to be considerable upheaval for those arriving in the Far East.

RWC chiefs wanted to try to relocate the game to Oita, 500 miles away from Yokohama

RWC chiefs wanted to try to relocate the game to Oita, 500 miles away from Yokohama

Last month, Typhoon Faxai caused considerable damage and led to transport chaos around Tokyo — and Hagibis is expected to be even stronger.

While Tokyo was bracing for this latest storm — with early indications that the vast rail network would shut down this weekend — there were also two earthquakes under the city, measuring 4.5 and 3.5 on the Richter scale. They could be felt in the Shinjuku district, where the England team are based until Friday.

England will now finish top of their pool but this is not an ideal scenario. They face going into a likely quarter-final against Australia in Oita a week on Saturday undercooked.

England’s last match became a procession against 14-man Argentina. It followed routine victories over Tonga and the USA, meaning the national team will not have been significantly tested before they take on the Wallabies.  

The cancellation could leave Eddie Jones's men under-cooked heading into the quarter-finals

The cancellation could leave Eddie Jones’s men under-cooked heading into the quarter-finals

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